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How to write an explication essay

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Explication essays can be varied by changing the type of question being asked: explaining different aspects about how something works (e.g.: “explaining” how nuclear fission occurs), describing an historical event or period (e.g.: explaining why freedom was such an important thing to fight for during World War II), helping someone solve a problem, etc.

The task of writing the explication essay is a useful tool in the education of students. Using this method, teachers can help their students understand what they read and interpret by themselves texts that are not simple to understand at first sight or for those who have difficulty reading.

The main intention of this essay is to enable students to summarize and explain the main concepts contained in the text. They must use their own words but refer back to the original text . This allows them not only to know these concepts but also enables them to check if they truly understood what was being explained. Explication essays are usually used with short texts such as poetry, lyrics, and song fragments among other possible examples of small compact content.

What is an explication essay?

An explication essay is an essay where the student explains or (explicates) the main idea of a text using his own words. Students are given a text that they already know the topic and main ideas of. In this essay students explain these points by using their own words. They do not have to copy word for word what is in the original text, but they must use its structure (exposition, definition or other). The teacher will assign one of the following types of texts:

A good explication must have 2 main parts. The first part is like a summary of the whole work and it should be brief, meaning that you don’t need to include long quotes from the text to fully explain what you want. The second part will be about what your opinion is on the whole work and why do you think so.

Structure of an explication essay

Like in any other type of essay writing, the structure on an exemplification essay includes: Introduction. body paragraphs, and a sound conclusion

Introduction Paragraph:

This is where you introduce the topic. It should be clear and concise but it must make sense and get the reader’s attention. At least 4 sentences and not more than 6 sentences.

The introduction is a very important part of an essay because it makes or breaks your paper. If you do not have a good introduction, then people will probably be confused by the rest of your paper even if they’ve already read it all.

Body Paragraphs:

Write a short intro about what key points are going to be covered so that the reader knows what they are getting into (highlighting important parts of the text). Then, briefly write about those key points (1-2 sentence per point/ use quotes or paraphrase), explaining why those particular points you picked as an example work best with your argument. End by giving a short conclusion (1-2 sentence / use quotes or paraphrase).

Be sure to include a variety of different key points and don’t just write about what you think are the most important ones. This is because your reader may want to understand things from another point of view, so they can read other parts of the text where those ideas are explained. You do not have to discuss every part of the text in detail, but make sure that you mention them altogether if need be.

If you have more than 3 body paragraphs, then it’s fine to add another one / paragraph after each body paragraph as long as they follow the correct structure.


Here you can talk about things that you didn’t mention earlier in your essay but make sure to include a short summary of the whole essay and don’t leave it hanging.

Make sure not to forget to include a conclusion, otherwise the reader will be confused and won’t know what your point is about.

The conclusion should contain all the main facts from your essay so that people can quickly skim through it and get exactly what they need.

It should not have any long quotes or information because readers are more interested as soon as possible getting straight to the point than reading more words.

When you finish writing this part, check again if there’s nothing else important you left out (like maybe a transition sentence or two / or one word per paragraph) then go ahead and write the final paper.

How to write an explication essay

Writing an explication essay can seem daunting, but it’s really not as difficult as it seems. In fact, if you follow a step-by-step guide like the one we are about to provide, you’ll be able to write a great explication essay in no time! So what is an explication essay?

An explication essay dissects the poem or workpiece by piece, examining each element and how it contributes to the overall meaning of the work.

If you’re ready to get started writing your own explication essay, follow the five steps below:

1. Pick a work to explain or explicate.

The first step in writing an explication essay is to choose the work you want to explicate. This can be a poem, short story, play, or even a novel. Once you’ve chosen your work, it’s time to move on to step two.

Now that you’ve chosen your work, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to approach writing your explication essay. In other words, what elements are you going to focus on? This will be different for every work, but some things you may want to consider are the author’s use of figurative language, symbolism, and literary devices.

You should also think about the overall structure of the work and how the various parts contribute to the whole. For example, if you’re explicating a poem, you may want to consider the poem’s stanzas, rhyme scheme, and meter.

If you’re explicating a short story, you may want to consider the plot, characters, setting, and point of view. Once you’ve decided what elements you’re going to focus on, you can move on to step three.

2. Start Writing

Now that you’ve chosen your work and decided what elements you’re going to focus on, it’s time to start writing! The first thing you need to do is provide some context for your readers.

Write Introduction

Introduce the poem or work of literature you will be explicating in your essay.

Be sure to include the title, author, and any other relevant information about the work you are discussing.

Next, you will want to provide a brief summary of the poem or work. This should just be a sentence or two that gives the reader an idea of what the piece is about.

This means giving a brief overview of the work, including the title, author, and any other relevant information.

Write Body paragraphs

Next, you need to start delving into your analysis. In your explication essay, you will want to focus on several elements of the piece you are discussing. Here are a few things you may want to consider:

  1. The title of the work and what it might suggest about the overall meaning
  2. The speaker or narrator of the piece and their point of view
  3. The setting of the work and how it contributes to the mood or tone
  4. The images or symbols used in the work and what they might represent
  5. The form or structure of the work and how it affects its meaning

As you analyze each element, be sure to support your claims with specific examples from the text. As you’re writing, keep in mind that your goal is to explain how these elements contribute to the overall meaning of the work.

Write Conclusion

After you have analyzed the different elements of the work, it’s time to conclude your explication essay. In your conclusion, you will want to sum up your main points and explain how they contribute to the overall meaning of the work. You may also want to discuss what you believe the author is trying to say with their piece.

3. Proofreading and editing

It is time to proofread and edit your explication essay. Check for any grammar or punctuation errors, and be sure that your essay flows smoothly from one point to the next. You may also want to have someone else read your essay to get their opinion.

Once you have edited and proofread your essay, it is time to submit it!

When you’re finished writing, you should have a clear and concise explication of the work you chose. If you followed the steps outlined above, you should have no problem writing a great explication essay!

5 Paragraph Explication Essay Outline

This is almost exactly like any other form of writing except for one major difference – instead of presenting facts, you reflect on them after having read something / done research (usually).

Make sure to include at least 5 body paragraphs unless your teacher has provided different instructions.

You can also add an optional cover page along with this structure where you explain what type of text you’ve read and what your opinion on it is.

Tips to writing a good explication essay

Here are some tips in writing an effective explication essay for a college level student:

  1. The outline is probably the most important factor in reaching a successful grade. Make sure it’s complete and structured properly or else you will not be able to write your paper easily without thinking about how things should go.
  2. Find a good balance between paraphrasing and quotes so that your writing style comes through while still staying close to what was originally said (without actually infringing on anyone’s copyright). It also helps to provide more evidence for your arguments because it creates a better understanding of why you think this topic is important / interesting.
  3. Don’t forget facts! If you are writing an explication essay, then make sure you do some research in order to get things right otherwise people can tell that you’ve just copied & pasted someone el work .
  4. Make sure that you understand what it is you are trying to explain, or else your essay will come off as very confusing and incoherent. You don’t have to agree with everything (especially if there are several viewpoints) but do make sure that your writing makes sense in the end!
  5. Try not to use too many quotes from one source within the space of one paragraph as it just confuses your reader and distracts them from reading on . If possible, try combining all those quotes into 1-2 sentences at max regarding each point (don’t forget to use transitions!) so that you can cover more points in contrast instead of putting out very similar arguments over and over again. This technique takes practice though but once you get a hang of it, you can use it in your writing to come off as more persuasive.
  6. Lastly, don’t forget references! They are very important because they back up all of your arguments and provide evidence. When you’re doing class work, make sure that you check with your teacher about how much of what they want (like direct quotes or paraphrased information) so you don’t get a bad grade from providing too little / too much evidence.
  7. If possible, read the text again after having finished the paper – now that you’ve read it once, perhaps take some things out or rephrase them to sound more like something a person would actually say instead of just copying & pasting from somewhere else (even if it’s not strictly against any rules).

Explication essay example

Example of an Explication Essay:

Title: Explication essay example of Ben and Jerry’s

The original idea behind the name, “Ben and Jerry’s” was from when two friends founded the company, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. They originally created the company to fulfill their childhood dream of becoming partners in a small business.

They had been out driving one day while they were still living in New York City when they came across this huge pothole on a road. After driving through it several times, they started harassing each other about having enough money to be able to fill up that hole with all their future profits from the ice cream shop that they dreamed about opening together .

After being inspired by the huge potential that they saw in opening up their own business together, the two friends decided to drop out of school and move back home to Burlington, Vermont. Although it was a risky move, it soon paid off when on their first day of sales at “Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop,” an eccentric customer walked into the shop and ordered a mint chocolate chip ice cream with cookie dough swirled throughout.

After this initial order from the customer, Ben and Jerry put all of their efforts into making their absolute best product possible so that they could determine what exactly was causing such an odd flavor mix-up.

The two then eventually realized that together they are unstoppable and after thinking up a new flavor called Chunky Monkey, they eventually started to get so popular that they had earned enough money to fulfill their childhood dream: repay the pothole in front of Jerry’s house and make it into a mini-putting green for his son.

Today, Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most famous ice cream brands worldwide with flavors that not only appeal to children but also adults alike. The company currently has stores throughout Vermont and even in parts of New York. They also have an online store called “The Web Store” where fans can order any flavor imaginable as well as merchandise such as shirts, shot glasses, bags, etc . Their first official shop outside of the United States was opened in Canada by two friends who were just like them when they were kids in 1992.

This is a simple way to illustrate an explication essay. Depending on your academic level, you might be required to write a better essay. Use the content in the guide above to write your own essay.

Ask for help with any kind of an essay here at Tutlance – online writing service. You can ask for help in different types of academic papers, such as an explication essay or any other type of a similar writing. Our service will do its best to ensure that your paper is done in time and with your satisfaction guaranteed.

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Explication essay writing tips:

If you would like to know more about how to write an explication essay, please follow the steps below!

  1. Write an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis statement and what the essay is going to explore.
  2. Explore the topic with a series of paragraphs that analyze and break down different aspects of it.
  3. Wrap up the essay by summarizing your thoughts on the subject.
  4. Proofread it for errors and make sure your thesis is clear.
  5. Include a Works Cited or Bibliography page to show your research, make sure you include reliable sources!

As you can see, the structure of an explication essay is really not all that different from any other type of essay. The key is to start with a clear introduction that tells the reader what they can expect from your paper. Then, each body paragraph should focus on one specific element that you will be analyzing. Be sure to support your interpretation with concrete evidence from the poem or work itself. Finally, wrap up your essay with a summary of your findings and any final thoughts you have on the piece.


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Explication essay help

Do you need help proofreading or editing your explication essay? Do you need help writing an explication essay for college? We can help! Our team of experts is here to provide you with the guidance and support you need to succeed in college. Ask a question and get answers online fast! We can help you attain your academic goals!

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